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Prince Albert of Monaco is shedding new light on how his parents met.
The story of how an American movie star met – and married – the Prince of Monaco is well-known in Hollywood. The meeting was partly orchestrated by “Gone with the Wind” actress Olivia de Havilland, whose husband, Pierre Galante, was the editor of Paris-Match.
On May 4, 1955, the couple was traveling by train to Cannes. When Galante heard that Kelly was a fellow passenger he was “struck” by the idea of the actress meeting Rainier. When the train arrived in Cannes, de Havilland ran over to Kelly and suggested the meeting.
At first, there was a conflict of schedules. After a series of phone calls, Galante rang up Kelly and told her that Rainier invited her to his palace at 4 p.m. the next day. However, she was required to attend a cocktail engagement for her film at 5:30 p.m. and declined. Rainier then moved their meeting to 3 p.m.
Grace Kelly in a strapless gown with a sprig of flowers tucked into her bodice, Hollywood, California, March 1954. (Sharland/Getty Images)
Then the meeting started badly.
Kelly washed her hair before discovering that a labor strike had cut off all the city’s electricity. With two cars waiting for her outside, Kelly opted for a slick back look and covered it with flowers. She wore the only unwrinkled outfit on hand and rushed down several flights of stairs.
Albert said that once his mother arrived, she was kept occupied for 55 minutes by the palace’s maitre d’hote Michel Demaurizi.
“It was nearly 4 p.m. when my father finally appeared in the royal antechamber,” the 64-year-old told Paris-Match on Monday. “A few shots were made. The famous handshake photograph, posed.”
Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Hollywood’s “queen” of the big screen. (Getty Images)
According to Albert, Rainier invited Kelly to see his 225-room palace. However, the actress noted that she was already given the full tour while she waited for him.
“As the whole visit was already done, there was nothing left for the prince to show – except the gardens,” Albert explained.
The prince said his parents toured the gardens and Rainier’s private zoo away from the photographers and journalists. They shared an intimate conversation and “the atmosphere changed.”
“The couple relaxed,” he said. “… My father, at ease, let his charm work and a dialogue began.”
Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly on their wedding day, circa 1956. (AFP via Getty Images)
Later, Kelly rushed to her event. She described the prince as “charming” to de Havilland. The pair soon began a private correspondence and attempted to keep their budding romance top secret until Rainier sailed for America. He proposed seven months later during Christmas.
The dress Kelly wore for her first meeting with Rainier, a McCall’s Pattern’s floral day, is “carefully preserved” as part of the palace’s collection, Albert confirmed.
The Philadelphia-born Hollywood actress became Princess Grace of Monaco after her marriage to Rainier in 1956. They remained together until the Oscar winner’s death in 1982 at age 52 from injuries she sustained in a car accident. The couple shared three children with Albert being the eldest.
Rainier passed away in 2005 at age 81.
Prince Albert with his mother Grace Kelly, circa 1982. (Serge ASSIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
In 2019, Albert told Fox News Digital he was always determined to protect his mother.
“There [are] so many different memories and different moments, of course, where we all laughed, the family,” he shared at the time. “I used to do a lot of traveling with her because we used to split up traveling. We didn’t travel, the whole family, together.”
“And so, I was usually the one [who] traveled with her,” he continued. “She called me her traveling companion. I felt a sense of responsibility, even though I was very young. She was taking care of me, but I felt as though I had to take care of her at times, too. So we laughed about that.”
Even after the former Hitchcock muse became a member of the royal family, she continued to raise awareness of the importance of the arts, as well as quietly supporting numerous American performing and film artists. Among Kelly’s many projects associated with the arts were restoring a theater in Monte Carlo, as well as embarking on stage tours in Europe and the United States, during which she read poetry.
Albert said the Princess Grace Foundation-USA is one of the many ways he’s keeping the legacy of the beloved matriarch alive.
“It’s very simple – she had that desire to help young artists, young emerging artists, in the performing arts,” he explained. “That’s exactly what we [do]. She didn’t have time to set up the foundation in her lifetime. She was busy with other charities and other foundations. There is also a Princess Grace Foundation-Monaco, which helps the dance school and other artists, mostly in painting and sculpture.”
While Kelly gave up her Hollywood career to embark on her new role as a princess, Albert revealed she never forgot her American roots. In fact, she was still eager to help aspiring performers find their footing.
“It’s incredible how she touched the lives of so many people,” reflected Albert. “Not only of her generation but also younger generations now… a lot of them still know her through her films or through photographs or through different actions that she was able to do over the years with different charities.”
Albert hopes that his mother will continue to be remembered, not just for her celebrated beauty or films, but for her willingness to help others follow a dream. Albert said he’s still just as protective of Kelly.
“It’s her generosity of heart and of spirit that we are trying to carry on, and we’re trying to have it transpire out of what we do with the foundation,” he said. “I hope that… she’ll still be recognized in many years to come as being that wonderful, generous, loving person that she was.”